Jaylen Hands was the only member of the UCLA Bruins who was drafted tonight in the 2019 NBA Draft. He was selected 56th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Clippers had earlier completed a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, which, according to reports, sent the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft to the Clippers in exchange for the Nets receiving a 2020 first round pick and the 56th pick in this year’s draft. Hands was that selection.
In our draft profile of Kris Wilkes, DCBruins compared Hands to Wilkes and wrote this about Hands:
Hands improved and made an effort to make himself a better player. He came in a great athlete and left leading the Pac-12 in assists as a point.
In our draft profile of Hands, DCBruins explained why he thinks Hands is the most NBA-ready UCLA player in this year’s draft:
It is because Hands improved last year on many of the things he needed to improve on as a player. Despite what people may think, Hands is an NBA-level athlete. However, he is not as strong as say Norman Powell to be an off guard. So, he needed to improve his point guard skills. He did do that. During his freshman year, he had a tendency to play out of control. He did a much better job last year and actually became the MVP of the 2018-19 Bruins. He was not padding his stats against bad teams either. He had his best game—Oregon, arguably the Pac-12’s best team.
Aside from the work Hands has done to improve his game, this particular move has the fingerprints of Joe Tsai all over it. Tsai currently owns 49% of the Brooklyn Nets, He purchased his stake in October 2017 and has an option to buy the rest of the team in 2021.
The reason that this move has Joe Tsai’s fingerprints on it is because Tsai is also a co-founder and executive vice-chairman of the Alibaba Group, which hosted the UCLA men’s basketball team when the team visited China to start the 2017-18 season.
But it was the fact that Tsai resides part-time in La Jolla, California that led to Tsai’s first observations of Hands. When Tsai met with the team during the trip to China, he immediately recognized Hands because he had seen Hands play high school basketball in San Diego.
Of course, Hands was surprised that a Chinese businessman recognized him among the players from UCLA and Georgia Tech. Former ESPN reporter Arash Markazi, who provided much of the media coverage of the unfortunate events of that trip, also memorialized the interaction between Hands and Tsai.
Joe Tsai briefly stopped his speech to UCLA to acknowledge Jaylen Hands. He saw Hands play Bishop's while Hands was at Foothills Christian. pic.twitter.com/BGpqrWXKlk— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 7, 2017
Hands spoke to Pac-12 Networks about the exchange between Tsai and him afterwards as well.
So, apparently, it seems like Joe Tsai has remained a big fan of Jaylen Hands, big enough to make sure that the Nets were able to select Hands in tonight’s draft.
While most Bruin fans have tried hard to forget everything about that trip, it seems that some good may have finally come out of it.
Good luck in Brooklyn, Jaylen!